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Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 2

 
Pushover (1952)          Human Desire (1953)        Nightfall (1955)


The Brothers Rico (1958)         City of Fear (1958)

 

Product Description:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and The Film Foundation partner once again to bring five films to DVD for the first time, fully restored and remastered, in Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics II. In this second volume, renowned directors Fritz Lang, Phil Karlson, and Irving Lerner are joined by Jacques Tourneur and Richard Quine in proving that lust, adultery, greed, and revenge all adds up to cold, calculated murder. Film Noir Classics II takes you on a dark journey among lowlifes and mobsters, cops and gun molls, and the dimwitted, hapless pawns who forever changed the landscape of cinema, and whose doomed paths are as disturbing today as when they were first committed to film.

 


Titles

 


 

Pushover (1952) - Richard Quine, a sometime actor best known today for his career as a director at Columbia in the 50s and early 60s, never became a cult hero, but a surprising number of his pictures hold up pretty well. This is one of them, a 1954 noir item with echoes of Double Indemnity. An aging cop (Fred MacMurray) falls in love with a bank robber's girlfriend (Kim Novak in her first major role, and if you're as much of a pushover for her early work as I am, you can't afford to miss this). Adapted from two novels—Thomas Walsh's The Night Watch and William S. Ballinger's Rafferty—by Roy Huggins .

Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at the Chicago Reader located HERE
 

Human Desire (1953) -

Fritz Lang's 1954 American version of the Zola novel (and Renoir film) La bete humaine. Gloria Grahame, at her brassiest, pleads with Glenn Ford to do away with her slob of a husband, Broderick Crawford. Lang mines the railroad setting for a remarkably rich series of visual correlatives to his oppressively Catholic conception of guilt and retribution. A gripping melodrama, marred only by Ford's inability to register an appropriate sense of doom.

Excerpt of Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE.


Nightfall (1955) - Another impressive addition to Tourneur's filmography, and yet another noir with a cynical glint in its exquisite eye. Adapted from James Goodis's novel, it is the story of an innocent man (Ray) on the run, set up for murder and with a couple of bank robbers on his tail, who think he knows the whereabouts of some stolen cash. As invariably happens in these situations, though, nobody knows as much as they think they know. As complex and as deftly structured as the more celebrated Out of the Past, this is masterful filmmaking that grips you and refuses to let go.

 Excerpt from Film4 located HERE


The Brothers Rico (1958) - Richard Conte tackles the mob in a classic film noir (1957) by Phil Karlson (99 River Street, Walking Tall). Karlson's style is hard, fast, and unadorned, which may explain why he's never attracted the attention lavished on Robert Siodmak and the prissier noir specialists. But the angry rhythms of Karlson's films seem just as true to the genre's fatalistic spirit as any of Siodmak's bizarre camera angles; with Dianne Foster and Kathryn Grant.

Excerpt of Dave Kehr's review at the Chicago Reader located HERE.

 

City of Fear (1958) - Pacy Columbia B-picture from a film-maker who did pretty well on the barest of resources and later won praise from Martin Scorsese (who also hired him as co-editor on New York, New York). Edwards escapes from prison with a sealed cannister he believes contains $1m worth of heroin. In fact he's toting radioactive cobalt that could contaminate the whole city. The premise is more exciting than the execution, but the movie's strong on seedy atmosphere (notable b/w camerawork from Lucien Ballard) and there's an excellent jazz-tinged score from Jerry Goldsmith.

 Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Releases: 1952 - 1958

DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Sony (5-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: Respectively - 1:27:36, 1:30:42, 1:18:51, 1:31:27, + 1:15:03
Bitrate: Pushover
Bitrate: Human Desire
Bitrate:

Nightfall

Bitrate: The Brothers Rico
Bitrate: City of Fear
Audio English (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Sony

Aspect Ratio:
All Original and anamorphic at 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Terror and Desire with Emily Mortimer on Human Desire (9:37)
• “Martin Scorsese on The Brothers Rico" (3:30)
• “Christopher Nolan on City of Fear (6:21)”

• Trailers

DVD Release Date:
July 6th, 2010
Custom digi-pak case (see image above)
Chapters: 12 X 5

 

Comments:

The stars are definitely out in the Sony Noir vol. 2 package with hunky guys Glenn Ford, Richard Conte, Aldo Ray, Vince Edwards and Brian Keith and then there's Fred MacMurray plus some sweet and sour gals like Anne Bancroft, Gloria Grahame and we get the film debut of Miss Kim Novak! What about the directors? We have Fritz Lang, Jacques Tourneur and Phil Karlson showcasing work. An exciting time for fans of the black cinema!

Warner have come alive with their upcoming Film Noir Classics Collection 5, but Sony beat them to the punch by a week in their follow up of the Columbia Film Noir Classic Vol. 1 with this second entry in the DVD package series. Human Desire is the only title that has seen the digital-light-of-day previously (in Japan and Spain) and we have compared some captures below from our review HERE.

NOTE: We've been told that Pushover also exists via a Spanish edition ("La Casa Numero 322") - thanks Irina + jloken!

The five feature films of this boxset are all filmed in black and white and reside on individual, progressively transferred DVD discs. Each is single-layered (only) in their original aspect ratios - 1:85, 16X9, anamorphically, enhanced.  Each disc is coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard. They have original mono audio (or 2.0 channel stereo) and each offer optional English subtitles in a bright yellow font with an annoying black background. The package (image above) is a three tiered Digi-pak housed inside a handsome cardboard slipcase. Unlike Vol. 1 there are no commentaries but there are 3 short 'discussions' that we will detail below.

Image quality:  Columbia TriStar produced some excellent quality single-layered DVDs of classic films in the old days but this new Sony Noir package video rendering looks quite modest. Regarding Human Desire: Unfortunately, this is not the same excellent transfer as the Japanese set - as I, and many were hoping for. There are some small marks on the Japanese rendering that are not duplicated on the US so it appears to be a different source. The new Sony is dirtier, the single-layered transfer exports a hazier image with a lower bitrate and there is some green infiltration in the contrast. With the Japanese set being been out of print for such a long time (people are asking almost $400 USD for it) this was such an anticipated title for North America noir fans - as most do not own it, in any form, on DVD. The video transfer has to be considered a disappointment.

The Brothers Rico is similarly weak - in fact no transfer in the set rises above 4.7 Mbps. They are all watchable and on the positive The Pushover (showing some nice grain) and City of Fear are reasonably strong with decent contrast and detail. Noise isn't really a prevalent issue but I would have preferred that these were all dual-layered transfers as opposed to single layered. In short they are progressive and but nothing remarkable on the video side.  

Audio was acceptable with all dialogue discernable and without major faux-pas like devastating dropouts, pops or background hiss. It was consistent and clear enough and is supported with optional English subtitles in a bright yellow font.

 

Extras this time don't offer a commentary this time and Eddie Muller or James Ellroy would have raised the value here. We do get about 20 minutes in total soliloquy discussion from Emily Mortimer on Human Desire , Martin Scorsese on The Brothers Rico and Christopher Nolan on City of Fear. There are original trailers available fro every film. I'm sure many share my disappointment that these extras weren't longer or gravitated into commentaries like Vol. 1.

 

Once again,  I doubt my review words would dissuade any true Noir fans from indulging in this package. Despite the middling quality I'm sure many are thrilled to have Human Desire on DVD as well as the other four films. Brothers Rico and Pushover are marvelous examples of the dark style and I also enjoyed Nightfall and City of Fear. It's a big win for fans despite any inferiorities or lack of extensive supplements. Let's hope for a Volume 3 - stacked with dual-layered transfer and commentaries!

Gary W. Tooze

 


 

Sample DVD Menus


Supplements


 

Pushover (1952)

 

Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Human Desire (1953)

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Columbia Tri-Star (JapaneseFilm Noir Classics Vol. 2) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP
2) Sony (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 2) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Columbia Tri-Star (JapaneseFilm Noir Classics Vol. 2) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP
2) Sony (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 2) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 


1) Columbia Tri-Star (JapaneseFilm Noir Classics Vol. 2) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP
2) Sony (Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 2) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM

 

 


 

 

 

 

Nightfall (1955)

 

Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Brothers Rico (1958)

 

Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

City of Fear (1958)
 
Screen Captures
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution Sony - Region 1 - NTSC

 


 


 



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